Immigrant detention facilities are violating detainees’ civil and constitutional rights and failing to meet basic standards of treatment, according to a scathing report released Thursday by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
The bipartisan commission, composed of four presidential appointees and four congressional appointees, urged President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to limit immigrant detention as much as possible, particularly for women and children.
“All people, no matter whether they are immigrants or asylum-seekers, deserve to be treated as humans,” Chairman Martin R. Castro, a Democrat who was appointed to the commission by Obama, said in a statement.
“Now, more than ever before, we need to treat fairly and humanely those persons, especially women and children, who are seeking sanctuary from violence and instability in their countries,” he added.
The report builds on months of backlash to the Obama administration’s use of family detention. Opponents have argued for years that immigrant detention, particularly of non-criminals, is overly punitive. Last year, the administration fueled that criticism by deciding to ramp up family detention, and critics are hoping to eventually end the practice altogether.
Ramping up family detention was a bad idea and overall, the Obama administration’s immigration record is decidedly mixed, a combination of proposing new policies and using some executive actions in very positive ways with a rise in deportations and effectively putting immigrants into prison. Obama has another 16 months or so in office. I hope he works hard to improve that record.